Studio Luz Architecture and Urban Design

BR+A+CE: Creating Community Spaces and Opportunities

By funkhaus

Architecture is a community centric field. While from the outside it may seem as if we deal only with physical structures and materials, our work is closer to the humanities than one might think. Bridging the gap between the left and right brains of our operations, Studio Luz Co-Founders Hansy Better Barraza and Anthony Piermarini founded the non-profit organization Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, or BR+A+C+E for short.

The 501c3 charitable organization was created by designers and artists to create new spaces that engage social, economic, and cultural issues facing communities they work in. Currently operating in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, BR+A+C+E has the long term goal of reaching communities internationally. Barraza and Piermarini share a common goal that they have implemented into the Studio Luz ecosystem as well, of making design that is accessible and socially responsible.

Since their founding in 2010 the organization has implemented 3 projects. Firstly, from 2010 to 2015, the team worked together to create The Big Hammock. Located on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway, the interactive public art installation encouraged chance encounters between strangers as they shared a moment (or longer) relaxing together, and gave the community a space to gather and connect with one another. The Awesome Foundation, a foundation that awards monthly grants of $1000 for creative ideas in the arts and sciences, gave its first-ever grant to architect Hansy Better in 2010 for her proposal to construct this project. During the time it was installed on the Greenway, The Big Hammock played host to readings, live music performances, and countless locals and tourists alike. Again in 2015, The Big Hammock was reinstalled at Adams Park in Roslindale for their summer Roslindale Farmers’ Market every Saturday in the month of August. This is BR+A+CE’s initiative to not only bring public art to the public parks of wealthier neighborhoods.

In 2012 BR+A+CE partnered with the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition and Brookwood Community Farm in Milton, MA to design a pedal-powered mobile farm stand to deliver fresh produce to underserved neighborhoods. As well as providing sustenance to communities in need, the mobile farm stand aims to create a fun and educational dialogue about local agriculture and healthy eating. The mobile farm stand is capable of safely  transporting and displaying eight bins of produce. The Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand was a recipient of a grant from the Awesome Foundation, and a generous donation from the office of the Mayor of Boston enabled MFFC to hire two members of its Vigorous Youth group to operate the farm stand for its inaugural season.

“Pedal-Powered Mobile Fam Stand”

BR+A+CE then took on its third project, the Tilt-Down Fence, a temporary urban stage for the local community and beyond. The installation consisted of a 7 ladder bench+table systems in Fields Corner, Dorchester, MA. The temporary structure was deep in metaphor. The ability to climb the ladder spoke to economic opportunity and a framework for adults to gather, support and network towards upward mobility. Being sited near the MBTA public bus stop, Tilt-Down Fence served the community at large, the VietAID Au Co preschoolers, parents and elderly population.

"The Tilt-Down Fence"

As the organization continues to make a name for itself, we are looking forward to the potential it has for positive change.

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